Diet or lifestyle

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Commonly, when we want to lose weight we go on a “diet”. We often define diet as a reduction in food intake however, the definition of diet, according to the “Concise English Dictionary”, is “Mode of living, now only with especial reference to food.” So, diet is really lifestyle. When we say we are going to go on a “diet”, that carries a negative connotation that one must starve one self in order to lose weight. In fact, what one really needs to do is to make a lifestyle change. A lifestyle change which promotes healthier eating while improving our physical and, subsequently, our mental well being. Let’s face it, nothing improves our mental and emotional well being as seeing our reflection of our ten pound lighter selves.

Before you start your new diet you need to have a general understanding how our bodies convert food into energy and how it stores unused energy for future use. Glucose, or sugar, converted from ingested carbohydrates, is your bodies preferred source of energy, (or fuel), during daily activity. The average adults cardiovascular system has the capacity to maintain approximately 80 calories of blood glucose. When blood glucose rises beyond this level, insulin is released carrying excess glucose back to the liver where blood glucose is converted into it’s storage form, glycogen. Our liver is capable of storing 300-400 calories of glycogen. Once the liver stores are full, insulin carried glycogen is carried to muscles which require glycogen for repair from previous, strenuous activity. The final destination for excess, unused glycogen beyond this point is adipose fat tissue. So, in short, carbohydrates consumed in excess ultimately get stored INSIDE your adipose, or fat tissues as triglycerides.

Now, before you stop ingesting carbohydrates all together and throw on a pair of running shoes to burn off all that excess adipose fat tissue, let’s slow down and talk about this a little more.

We now know ingested carbohydrates are converted into energy. We also know our cardiovascular system stores approximately 80 calories for immediate energy needs. So, instead of ingesting large amounts of carbohydrates three times daily, we should ingest smaller amounts more often so we can slowly replace our depleting blood glucose levels due to daily activity while preventing excess fuel storage in the form of triglycerides which reside in our adipose fat tissues.

So, don’t go on a “diet” and starve yourself. A prolonged, low calorie diet will lead to a slower metabolism and most likely will contribute to weight gain.

In my next blog I will follow up and explain why resistance training is critical to a successful weight loss program which will improve your overall body composition and increased weight loss.

Until then remember, “If you want it, you have to go get it.”

The best movies for fitness motivation

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Movies are appealing for a variety of reasons, but one of the main reasons we continually absorb them is the chance to live vicariously through their characters. Nearly all movie characters endure challenges that are reflective of our own lives in one way or another, and this connection can be incredibly motivating in the right context.

This notion is especially true of sports and fitness films, many of which feature protagonists attempting to improve their athletic skills, win a crucial competition, or simply find their place in not only their sport of choice, but the culture encapsulating that sport.

Here are a few of the best films for fitness motivation.

 

Rocky

Often regarded as one of the most uplifting and motivational sports films of all time, Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky consistently produces a powerful vicarious effect over viewers. Something about Rocky Balboa’s against-all-odds situation is potent and moving, especially when paired with the brutal chapters of his training to fight heavyweight champion Apollo Creed.

At its core, Rocky is a typical David and Goliath tale, but with enough memorable characters and doses of reality to keep it fresh, it is able to remain one of the most resonant films of all time (and if those factors don’t pull you in, the film’s score will).

 

Remember the Titans

The Jerry Bruckheimer-produced Remember the Titans focuses on the true story of African-American football coach Herman Boone (played by Denzel Washington), who helped to bring racial unity to the T.C. Williams High School football team. Though the film is occasionally criticized for following an all too familiar sports film plot, it ultimately succeeds in providing an uplifting message that intertwines themes of tolerance and hard work.

 

Warrior

Warrior exhibits many of the same emotional drawing points as similar films before it (namely Rocky), but it is able to rise above cliche with a series of strong performances and a plot that is full of heart. The fim stars Tom Holland and Joel Edgerton as “two estranged brothers whose entrance into a mixed martial arts tournament makes them come to terms with their lives and each other.” The film is able to remain motivational due to its effective blending of familial turmoil and athletic drama.

 

Miracle

Miracle tells the true story of the 1980 United States men’s hockey team, which stunned the world when it defeated the heavily favored Soviet team to win gold at the 1980 Winter Olympics (aka the “Miracle on Ice”). The film is yet another classic underdog story told in a relatable and inspirational manner.

Kurt Russell’s “again” scene alone is chilling enough to inspire fresh training motivation.

The best cycling apps

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Like most aerobic fitness endeavors, cycling requires hard work in a variety of ways: commitment to training, planning routes and loops, developing a weekly schedule that works with your unique employment routine, and making sure your bike is regularly maintained for optimal performance.

With so many variables constantly at play, a biker’s life can occasionally be as hectic as it is relaxing and addictive. Luckily, there are a variety of technological resources available to make cycling an easier and smoother process, namely a long list of useful smartphone apps dedicated to the sports’ most crucial fundamentals.

Here are a few of the best cycling apps.

 

Strava

Strava has risen as a household name in fitness-based smartphone app technology. Aimed mainly at cyclists, runners, and walkers, the app records periods of activity and allows users to simultaneously log them and share them with other Strava users. For cyclists, the app is a great tool for monitoring rides and recording time over set segments.

 

Bike Gear Calculator

Simply titled, but infinitely useful, the Bike Gear Calculator app “is a quick way to compare different gears on your bike and on setups you’re considering, and for seeing how fast you’ll be travelling in a given gear at a particular cadence (pedal revolutions per minute).” The app serves as a great measuring tool and foresight resource for upcoming rides and races.

 

Cyclemeter

Cyclemeter’s main strength is its ability to use past and current experiences to contribute to future training approaches. The app implements GPS ride data to store your progress, focusing primarily on speed, distance, and overall time.

 

Garmin Connect Mobile

Like Strava, Garmin Connect Mobile stands as a popular resource among many different types of aerobic athletes. Specifically for cyclists, the app provides an advanced ride logging system through the Garmin Connect database, which can also be shared across Strava, MyFitnessPal, and other leading fitness-based apps. By using this app, cyclists will also have access to other Garmin features such as LiveTrack, which allows others to track you in real time during a ride.

 

Fill that Hole
Fundamentally different than the other apps on this list, Fill that Hole is a unique and quirky app designed to let cyclists report potholes and other road hazards to local authorities. The UK-based service strives to make the hazard reporting process easier and less micromanaged in terms of communication. After all, a roadside direct line of communication is a lot easier to navigate than a weekly municipal government meeting.

The miracle drug for health

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If I told you I have found a pill that has been scientifically proven to slow down the effects of aging, improve your mood, reduce chronic pain, lower your risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer, slow down or prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s, prevent diabetes, improve your sex drive…all while helping you lose weight and improve your overall physique, would you want to start taking it? How about if I told you it was absolutely free, would you want it even more? What if I told you this one pill, when taken regularly and in the correct dosage would also help you get off most, or all of your prescribed medications saving you potentially hundreds or even thousands of dollars each year when meeting health insurance deductibles and co-pays.

If this drug did in fact exist, would you want it? Well it does exist and it’s called *exercise*!

Let’s dig a little deeper.

It’s a scientific fact exercise improves the health of your cardiovascular system by increasing the strength of your heart. This enables your heart to pump more efficiently, therefore creating better blood circulation throughout your body delivering fresh oxygen to your now busy muscle groups and removing nasty toxins out of your body. Not only does exercise increase the size and strength of your muscles but it also increases the density of your bones. This is critical as we age.

Most recently exercise is now linked to overall good brain health providing better memory, less depression, improving comprehension and is now considered one of the best ways to prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s.

So, what types of exercise are beneficial? Basically there are two types of exercise. First let’s talk about Aerobics. Think Jane Fonda. Aerobic exercise increases your heart rate and breathing but not to a point of exhaustion. A brisk walk, a bike ride, raking leaves or mowing the lawn all require an increase in our heart and breathing rates. You can even take a slow paced jog through your neighborhood, run at a pace that allows you to have a conversation with a running partner.

Secondly, strength training or anaerobic exercise. Many people associate this type of training with sweaty gyms filled with sweaty guys pumping several hundred pounds of weights-not necessarily true. Strength training can be quite simple and easy to incorporate into our daily routines. Body weight exercises, done regularly such as push-ups, planks, and air squats can provide a challenge while promoting weight loss and improved, but not necessarily bigger, muscle tone. An inexpensive set of resistance training bands provide enough resistance to achieve noticeable results, and they pack easily into your suitcase so you can continue your workout regimen while traveling, no sweaty gyms required here! Pilates, Yoga, and Tai Chi are also great forms of body weight exercise promoting overall good health.

It’s recommended most adults exercise 150 minutes each week, (in addition to what you may already be doing), and also incorporate 2 sessions of resistance training each week will provide appreciable results. Remember, consistency is key.

The benefits of exercise are simply too numerous to list. 45 minutes, 3 times each week of easy aerobic work and 2 sessions of your choice of strength training every week is all it takes.

In the mid 1600’s an English doctor was quoted saying, “Those who think they have no time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.”

So, let’s take advantage of this miracle drug and get started!

Remember, “If you want it, you’ve got to go get it!”

Five foods that might seem healthy, but are not

mark dziuban, foods that may seem healthy but are not

Since the United States first launched into its health craze about a decade ago, countless brands have been advertising that their foods are now “all-natural,” “gluten-free,” and/or “organic.”

Unfortunately, these claims are rarely ever true, as this presumably healthier food is often packed with saturated fats, toxic sugar substitutes, and high levels of carbohydrates.

Here is a list of five foods that might seem healthy, but actually are not:

 

Granola

It is important to note that not all granola is unhealthy, but many brands add unnecessary sugars and oils to their products during the cooking process, giving them a higher fat content. If you are craving granola, opt to make it at home instead. After all, there are plenty of savory recipes that are healthier — and more satisfying — than the usual store bought brands.

 

Flavored yogurt

No matter how lofty yogurt brands’ claims are, their flavored yogurt is not, in fact, a healthy breakfast option. Instead, these small cups are often loaded with more sugar than you would expect, leaving you feeling hungry shortly after tossing the plastic cup into the recycling bin, Make it a point to incorporate plain Greek yogurt into your diet. You can add fruit or spices to give it more flavor and it will leave you feeling more energized for the day ahead.

 

Margarine

Although it boasts a lower level of saturated fat than its classic butter counterpart, margarine is far worse for your body due to how many synthetic ingredients are added during its production. As a matter of fact, margarine is not even naturally yellow like butter is — it is more of a grey color, but it is bleached to emulate butter and steamed to remove any chemical odors. Perhaps it is time to pitch that container of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! and switch back to butter or a real natural alternative.

 

Instant oatmeal

As unfortunate as it is, packets of instant oatmeal hold little to no nutritional value, especially if they are flavored. Flavored oatmeal has been proven to contain too much added sugar, which, similar to the aforementioned flavored yogurt, will only leave you rummaging around for more food within an hour or so. Instead, opt for the classic instant oats and add in fruit, spices, and other items to add flavor and texture to your morning bowl of oatmeal.

 

Gluten-free foods

This is likely the most shocking item on this list, as gluten-free foods are presumed to be inherently better for you. Unfortunately, that is not the case, as gluten-free foods contain various rice flours, additional sugar, and starches that are not as nutritionally beneficial in comparison to whole grains. So, if you do not have a legitimate gluten allergy, it would be best to avoid gluten-free foods as much as possible.

Exercise habits to avoid

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No matter how long you have been actively pursuing a better fitness routine, it is possible that you have one or more bad exercise habits that are deterring your efforts. In order to fully reap the benefits of your time in the gym, be sure to avoid the following exercise habits:

Skipping gym days. It is no secret that exercising is sometimes a greater test of your mental willpower than your physical abilities. After all, it is rare to find a person who genuinely desires to go to the gym and work out — especially in front of others who may or may not be in better shape than they are. However, it is better to find a way to will yourself to get up, lace up your sneakers, and go to the gym anyway. Such persistence will benefit you in the long run.

 

Taking long rests between exercises. Although it may be tempting to sit down and take a long water break after an especially difficult set of weightlifting or a sprint, it is much better for you to take shorter breaks — anywhere between one and three minutes — as they give you the opportunity to catch your breath without losing momentum or drastically lowering your heart rate.

 

Eating and/or drinking too much. Indulging in full meals or drinking too much water before a work out can lead to nausea, cramps, and other painful side effects. It is better to eat a small, healthy snack — such as Greek yogurt, fruit, or granola — and drink no more than two glasses of water prior to your next trip to the gym, as this will give you the energy you need to follow through with your exercise plan without any additional pain.

If you do choose to eat a full meal before heading to the gym, be sure to do so about two to four hours beforehand.

 

Working out aimlessly. If you go into the gym without at least an outline of your regimen for the day, it is unlikely that you will gain much from your efforts, as you will be more prone to getting distracted or giving up mid-exercise because you are not totally sure of what you are doing.

 

Make it a point to write down your exercise plan, whether on a piece of paper or in a note on your phone. This will not only give you direction at the gym, but help you to familiarize yourself with your gym’s range of equipment as well.

Ways to make healthy eating affordable

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A healthy lifestyle is a commitment in many ways, as it requires a fair amount of discipline, will power, and accountability. Making changes to your daily routine can be difficult at times, but these challenges are what will ultimately shape you (maybe figuratively and literally) into a fitter, happier individual.

Where dieting is concerned, one consistent challenge is the price of eating healthier meals on a regular basis. Healthy foods can, at times, reach lofty prices — regardless of where you are shopping. However, there several under-utilized, if not entirely overlooked techniques that can be adopted to make healthy eating less of a financial burden. Here are three easy ways to make healthy eating more affordable.

 

Change your way of thinking

You must possess the proper mindset if you are going to pursue a healthier diet, and this includes the financial end of this pursuit. It is no secret that many Americans resort to fast food, unhealthy frozen meals, and other quick answers to daily meals in an attempt to balance both their time and budget. A big step towards healthier living is coming to the realization that not all healthy meals require large amounts of time and money — you must break away from the conditioned association of unhealthy meal options and affordability. Once you have reached this point, you will be able to better focus on “good deals” that are also good for you.

 

Make a meal plan

If you are concerned about how healthy meals will impact your budget on a long term scale, it is wise to plan out your meals in advance. Use Sundays to make a meal list for the upcoming week, basing the list off of a predetermined meal budget. Estimate how much each meal will cost and use these figures to balance your plan to your liking. You can never have too much foresight in this field, and keeping these habits will give you a better natural perception of the meals you can and cannot make on a regular basis. Plus, if nothing else, a meal plan will add another component to your organization throughout a busy work week.

 

Relish the leftovers

Do not be afraid to make too much of a healthy meal — unless you are extremely picky about repeating specific courses, you may be able to use meal leftovers to get you through multiple days of eating, saving more money in the process. This way, you will at least ensure that you are eating something you know is healthy while saving time otherwise spent on new meal preparations. Additionally, you can use leftovers to craft other healthy dishes (stir frys, salads, and burritos, for example).

3 Benefits of a Ketogenic Diet

There has been a stigma around dietary fats as long as humans have been studying nutrition. Whether it was the realization that fats contain more calories per gram than carbs and protein in the 50s, or the influence companies had on advertising in the 70s, people have been scared to eat fat. Science has come a long way in the last 60 years, and we are finding that a diet high in fat is actually beneficial and quite healthy for most humans. The ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that is designed to put the body in a state of ketogenesis. A ketogenic diet, just like all diets, is not for everyone, but if you are able to try it, you will experience the following benefits.

Appetite Suppression

Most people site hunger as one of the main reasons that led them to give up on their diet. The majority of diets people try do not allow them to eat enough food, which results in them always being hungry. The Ketogenic diet has been a proven appetite suppressant, and it is mainly due to the low-carb aspect of the diet. When you ingest sugars (carbs), your body will constantly crave more sugar. By eliminating that from your diet, your body will be able to run more efficiently without telling you it is hungry every hour.

Eating More Fat Leads to Fat Loss

Yes, you heard that right. The age old belief of cutting fat from your diet will cut fat from your midsection is just not true. The reason people have trouble losing bodily fat is because they’re misinformed on how that fat is stored. Your body stores excess carbs as fat when you do not use them as fuel, and as you eat more carbs, you will first need to use what you just consumed before you can tap into your fat stores. If you eliminate those carbs from your diet, your body will begin converting stored fat to fuel, which will leave you looking leaner and feeling better.

More Energy

One thing almost everyone who goes keto notices pretty early on in the diet is drastically increased energy. Your body is not working nearly as hard to break down sugars, and it will leave you with long-lasting energy all day. Along with more energy throughout the day, most people have shown drastic changes to their sleep patterns. That 2 PM grogginess at your desk will disappear within the first week of switching over to keto, too.

If you are interested in exploring a new diet, you may find that going keto has all of the benefits you are looking for. It’s not difficult to make the switch, and you’ll find it’s easy an easy diet to maintain. Trying it out for a few weeks could end up leading to you making a lifestyle change and going keto for the long run.

How to Prepare for an Adventure Race

Adventure races are quickly becoming a bucket list item for many outdoor enthusiasts across the country. The races resemble a triathlon with tweaks to the woods to add the element of nature into the mix. The most common adventure races include three events: Trail running, mountain biking, and kayaking. Whether you are a seasoned triathlete or this is your first multi-event race, there are steps to take to make sure you have a successful first adventure race.

Start Small

Adventure races are hard, and there is no way around that. Don’t jump into something overwhelming for your first race. There are sprint adventure races with shorter stages that still give you the satisfaction of completing the race without requiring you to train like an olympic athlete. Find a few shorter races to find out what works best for you in terms of events and length. Once you are comfortable with those races, it may be time for you to move on to longer events and multi-day races.

Train Smarter, Not Harder

Don’t confuse the title as an excuse to just cruise through your training plan without pushing yourself. You need to push yourself, but there is a point of diminishing returns. The days of training to exhaustion daily are behind us, and there is plenty of research that shows recovery is just as important as hard training days are. There are plenty of training plans for triathlons, and they can easily be adapted to your adventure race. Find something that’s tailored to a race around the same length as yours and stick to it.

Get Comfortable with your Equipment

One of the biggest issues most people have with their first adventure race is a lack of familiarity with their kayak or mountain bike. You will want to spend a few hours per week getting used to them before you start your training program. Make sure you know how to perform trail maintenance on your bike including changing a flat and replacing a chain link. These two issues alone will keep many people from finishing the bike stage.

Learn the Course

Most adventure races will have course maps available online long before the race starts. If it is close to home, take a weekend to explore the course. It will go a long way on race day. If you cannot get to the course before the race you can always find out what trails you will be on and find YouTube videos from the same trail system. There’s a good chance someone rode the route with a GoPro and posted it online.

Adventure races are a great way to experience nature and challenge yourself both physically and mentally. They’re popping up all over the place. If you want to mix your love for the outdoors with your love of fitness, then these races will be perfect for you.

Total Caloric Expenditure: Part 2-The Thermal Effect of Food

Mark Dziuban - Thermal

In part one of this series, we learned how to calculate your Resting Metabolic Rate, or RMR, which is how many calories your body burns to provide for all it’s necessary bodily functions. You now know how many calories your body requires before you do anything more than lay in bed all day.

Now that we understand and have calculated your resting metabolic rate, we have a little more work to do. Before we do that, let’s look at the equation for Total Caloric Expenditure.

Total Caloric Expenditure = RMR + Thermal Effect of Food + Activity Expenditure

The Thermal Effect of Food is the total number of calories required to digest your food. Yes, your body burns calories when processing, or digesting the food you eat. Your body burns calories absorbing and distributing those nutrients throughout your body. No, you cannot eat more food to burn more calories and lose weight. While that would be a fun way to lose weight, the fact is our bodies burn far fewer calories digesting the food we eat than the total number of calories contained in that food. We are going to use a very simple method to determine your Thermal Effect of Food. Remember that this figure varies depending on the types of food ingested. Simply calculate 10% of your daily caloric intake. The answer is the approximate number of calories required to digest and process our food. So, using our example 34-year-old female from our previous post, let’s say she consumes 2,300 calories per day. So, multiplying 2,300 calories by 10% or, 2,300 x .10 we determine her Thermal Effect of Food to be 230 calories. Her RMR we previously calculated to be 1,378.13 or let’s around up to 1,380 for easier math. Her Thermal Effect of Food is 230 so we know she currently burns 1,610 calories per day, 1,380 + 230 = 1,610.

We are well on our way to having a good idea how many calories we burn in a single day.

Before we move on any further, let’s talk about the three categories of metabolism. There are the Ectomorph, Mesomorph, and the Endomorph. Do you have a friend or family member who seemingly can eat anything at any time and never gain a single pound of weight? That lucky person is an Ectomorph, or is better identified as having a very high metabolism. A Mesomorph is one who has a normal metabolism and an Endomorph has a difficult time losing weight. You’ll need to determine which category you fit in to you will need to be honest with yourself. So, when calculating your Total Caloric Expenditure, or TCE, add 500 calories if you are an Ectomorph. If you are a Mesomorph, do nothing and for an Endomorph you will need to deduct 200 calories once you determine your daily caloric intake.

For sake of our example, let’s assume our 34-year-old female is a mesomorph and requires no change once we determine our new daily caloric intake requirements.

In part three of this series, we will talk a little bit about lean body mass, (LBM), and try to help you determine your activity expenditure.

As a side note: For those of you who are considering weight loss supplements: There are many weight loss supplements available in the store or online which have key ingredients that are not scientifically studied. Check on the internet to find if your “miracle product” references any scientific studies on humans-you may be surprised.

Until next time, always remember, “If you want it, you’ve got to go get it.”